Napolitano called out on lie about TSA lines

by Bill Fisher on March 8, 2013

The New York Post has taken aim at DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano over her tall tale about fictitious delays at LAX and O’Hare supposedly brought on by the sequester. In this case the writer is not just another “phone it in” pseudo-journalist, but activist and author Becky Akers, who has written extensively on the TSA and has a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the agency.

As the column notes, Napolitano contradicted her subordinate, TSA Administrator John Pistole, who only days before had told lawmakers that any delays would not likely occur until spring or summer.

In her assessment of the impact on the agency, Akers notes:

Even Congress, no bastion of common sense, observed in that House report, “A private sector entity in the face of a shrinking customer base usually must downsize. TSA, by contrast, has continually grown its ranks despite fewer travelers.”

So don’t blame any delays at the airport on the sequester, or on anything but the TSA.

With an already hated and hurtful bureaucracy threatening more grief, isn’t it time to say, “Enough”?

Now, despite an annual budget of almost $8 billion, the TSA insists its poverty will keep us standing in line for hours. Fine: Let’s return aviation security to the airlines, where it belongs and where it resided until the ’60s.”

As most TSA observers are aware, the agency has swollen despite a decline in the number of passengers. The agency had 45,500 workers in 2008 and screened 650 million passengers. But in 2011 the TSA needed 48,000 workers to process fewer than 640 million passengers. TSA staffing exceeded 50,000 workers in 2012, with estimates as high as 58,000.

The TSA budget for 2012 was $8.115 billion, based on the DHS FY2012 budget documents. The total number of passenger enplanements in the US in 2011 was 724 million, according to the FAA, while the International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that there has been a 1.5 percent expansion in demand, increasing the 2012 load to 735 million passengers, or only 11 million more than the previous year.

To put this in perspective, the agency screens 1.8 million people per day, but it added 2,000 workers — a 4% staff increase — to handle what amounts to 6 days’ worth of work. As we have written here before, the average cost per screening is $11.21. But the TSA 9/11 security fee is $2.50 per U.S. enplanement (or screening), which leaves taxpayers to pay $8.71 for every passenger who uses a U.S. airport.

Incredibly, the head of the Department of Homeland Security has now threatened to hold passengers hostage in airport security lines if there are even the most minuscule cuts in funding of this bloated agency. Napolitano’s ill-conceived and baseless statement makes one question whether this was a threat of extortion or simply an indication of her incompetence.

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